Saw Swee Hock Centennial Professorial Lecture: The Market for International Arbitration

The inaugural Saw Swee Hock Centennial Professorial Lecture by Professor Alec Stone Sweet was held on 3 February 2016. NUS Law was delighted to welcome Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon ’86 as the guest-of-honour. We were also honoured by the presence of Professor Saw Swee Hock, President’s Honorary Professor of Statistics at NUS, whose generous gift to the faculty established the Saw Swee Hock Centennial Professorship in Law.

Professor Stone Sweet’s lecture on “The Market for International Arbitration” attracted over 100 members of the legal fraternity for a rare opportunity to delve into the subject with a leading international expert. Professor Lucy Reed, Director of the Centre for International Law was commentator for the lecture.

The presentation focused on a new research project: the on-going construction of a global market for international commercial arbitration. Today, more than 200 international arbitral centres compete for market share, influence, and survival. A handful of “global centres” seek to structure the broader field in their own image; smaller ones work to develop regional, or niche services that will enable them to prosper. Major trading states compete to show their pro-arbitration colours, not least, because the business of arbitration is big business. Professor Stone Sweet emphasises that as crucial instruments of enforcement, national courts, too, cast shadows on arbitration in myriad ways. Finally, arbitrators compete with one another for appointments, and also for the top management positions in the major houses. A relatively small cadre of elite arbitrators dominates the field, networking it and reducing its (potential) fragmentation. The project seeks answers to questions such as: What are the most important determinants of the success of IACs? Which states have been the most successful at attracting arbitral business, and through what strategies? What advantages does Singapore have over HKIAC-Hong Kong and other centres in Asia, and how can SIAC increase its global prominence?

From left: Professor Simon Chesterman, Dean of NUS Law, Professor Saw Swee Hock, Professor Alec Stone Sweet, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Professor Lucy Reed.

Professor Stone Sweet and Professor Lucy Reed engage the audience during the Q & A session.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Dean Simon Chesterman.

About the Speaker
Professor Alec Stone Sweet is a leading American academic in the fields of international law and comparative law. He works in the fields of comparative and international politics, and comparative and international law. He has published eleven books and edited volumes, and more than 70 papers, including in the American Journal of Sociology, the American Political Science Review,
Comparative Political Studies, West European Politics, the International Journal of Constitutional Law, the Journal of European Public Policy, and the Revue Française de Science Politique. Professor Stone Sweet graduated from Western Washington University (BA, Political Science), the Johns Hopkins SAIS (MA, International Relations), and the University of Washington (Ph.D., Political Science). Prior to moving to the Yale Law School in 2004, he was Official Fellow and Chair of Comparative Government at Nuffield College (1998–2005), and Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Irvine (1991–1998). He has also held visiting professorships at the Bocconi University Law School (Milan), the Columbia Law School (New York), as well as in law faculties in Aix-en-Provence (France), Bologna
(Italy), Florence (Italy), Madrid (Spain), Paris (France), Stockholm (Sweden), Sydney (Australia), and Vienna (Austria). Professor Stone Sweet joined the NUS Faculty of Law in January 2016 as the inaugural Saw Swee Hock Centennial Professor of Law, a tenured full-time position at NUS Law.